the muffled songs
made me wonder
who played violin
on the other side
who cradled the bowstring
whose long haunting moans
whispered my name
in its dried throat
beyond the wooden wall
who itself whispered
its own ghosts
its dead fingerprints
to live again
(originally published in The Bond Street Review, Summer 2017)
between her legs the fast song halfway done
her knees strangled the sound she bent out
her violin’s bow popped off the crowd’s
gasp the banjo player slouched drummer
the steady beat they played on and watched
like a song can continue after music
has slumped from a body
(originally published in Gambling the Aisle, Summer 2017)
she is a delicate
vocal who sings
on an axis
in an orchestra
we never talk about
and rarely attend
it is not enough
to hear her tones
we will watch
her cords wear
as she forgets
how to sing
her notes softening
until she becomes
(originally published in #thesideshow, Spring 2017)
After Band of Horses
After my sister’s morning call broke
our father’s death, the first thing
I did was listen to Everything All the Time,
sobbing into unrequited guitar
and an ethereal voice soaring
into some great beyond. Seven years later,
I drink Bordeaux with my roommate
in the kitchen, cyclical tones
filling the room. The guitar is a coffin
for us both, lowering Dad’s corpse
into dirt. Her grandpa died
when this song released.
We rake our past leaves under burnt-out bulbs.
We agree: The Funeral was written for both of us
to pass the billion-each-insignificant day.
Dead leaves own the lawn each season
of our funerals. The same deaths
in autumn chill still dropping the needle
into memory’s vinyl– to come up only
to pull us under, show us wrong.
(originally published in Chronogram, Spring 2017)
there are many instruments that we are
and many more we are not
such as we are sometimes saxophones
who have not memorized love songs
but we have eyes to read the sheets
lips to blow into trumpets tubas
muscles to crash cymbals
pound the bass drum at night
we remain off-tune no matter time of day
arcs of trombone waves flute trills rainbows
the inhaled swampy atmosphere
of slide-lube and falling domino fingers
down the rigid clarinet air
melodic staccatos of sixteenth-notes
every piece celestas
on wet reed floor
the band room holds its breath
waits for us to play something
(originally published in Beech Street Review, Fall 2016)
(originally published in Silkworm, Winter 2016)
It was Maxwell
can be extended.
My theory is
it is possible
if we are infinite
strings of numbers,
if an unknown
of remaining days
makes us immortal.
as I can
just to feel
does the universe
with the heart’s
The night sky’s
(originally published in Columbia College Literary Review, Spring 2017)
The longer potatoes taste air, the more
they rust over time. We strummed
guitars with calloused fingertips
(melodious incision). The pot
overfills from the weight of boiling.
We whistled unfamiliar tunes through
afternoon orgasms. My teeth cannot chew
the raw. Steam will temper the room
enough to sustain our songs in my head.
I always liked to mix vegetables
into the mash, the music, but the days
are already too easy to cry. The onion
remains sheathed in its flaky armor.
Bunches of corn are never shucked.
Even the cheddar stays in plastic past
when these potatoes soften enough
to feed. The chords are always
harsh. We could never eat our fill.
(originally published in The Wagon Magazine, Autumn 2016)
We stare at stars until we feel
the cavalcade of stones shift beneath our shoes.
There is an entropy to the universe.
What melody does the rail hold in her ivories?
Do we listen for an engine to ignite
while we tangle in the grass, in the cold,
in the tremble of tracks? Where else to go?
We tremble, too, waiting
for a song from the vulnerable rail
and her sharp of distance.
If the train will not move I still want
to create landscapes with you
and callous ourselves hurtling
past engine content in her still
into worlds where I become wind,
and you, fire–
with a palm on your cheek,
we’re the mountains,
playas, beaches, moors.
All a blur. A quiver.
(originally published in Isthmus, Winter 2016)
Lawnmower string / guitar heart–
pull, strum, start then stop the song.
It’s dead grass. Its broken neck.
B-chord specks. Shades of saffron.
It’s dandelion season–
one reason to sing with blades.
Grass frets yet begins anew.
Rotors drone through spring. Charades.
(originally published in The Road Not Taken, Summer 2016)